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« March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'

Backup singers are in the spotlight in this music documentary from Morgan Neville
Review by Marjorie Baumgarten

Twenty Feet From Stardom

24 Beats per Second
D: Morgan Neville

"It's a long walk to the front," observes Bruce Springsteen while discussing the switchover from backup singer to solo artist in this documentary devoted to the art of the backup singer. Some vocalists don't have the ambition, others don't have the personality or drive, and most don't have the quicksilver luck to step out from their roles as supporting players. Not every singer craves the limelight, as this film by the music-documentary veteran Neville attests while celebrating the self-effacing art of blending in, of serving the needs of a particular song rather than the desires of an aspiring ego. Particular focus is paid to the careers of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, and the Waters Family Singers, some of the most in-demand vocalists whose experiences embody the highs and lows faced by backup singers in modern American music. Instead of preaching to the choir, this film preaches about the choir.

Friday, March 15, 8pm, Paramount
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